Amy Reichelt: Obesity, Diet, Eating Habits, Food Addiction, Psychedelics, Nutrition & the Brain |#55
Full episode transcript below. Beware of typos!
Dr. Amy Reichelt how are you?
Amy Reichelt 5:09
I'm very well thank you.
Nick Jikomes 5:11
Can you start off by just telling everyone a little bit of who you are and what your scientific background is?
Amy Reichelt 5:18
Um, yeah, so I have a PhD in neuroscience, which I obtained from Cardiff University in the UK. Before that I did a bachelor's in psychology from University of Birmingham. I really first cut my teeth into what went on to become one of my major research focuses over the past decade, during my honors as an undergrad, and I got to examine how the endocannabinoid system and cannabinoid system affected palatability of solutions is sugar in rats. So utilizing some of the then quite novel cannabinoid antagonists, the CB one, rimonabant and associated molecules, and I then kind of put that aside and went on and did my PhD. Where I really looked at behavioral neuroscience, and how the tauopathies and Outsider's models of dementia affected frontotemporal function using various mice. After that, I went to University of Birmingham for a postdoc and studied memory reconsolidation is kind of writing out that really fun wave, and really looking at how a positive memories so your memories of food could be updated using rats. And that was an awesome adventure working with now Associate Professor Jonathan Lee. But I kind of wanted to escape from the UK. And I've always been a bit of a adventurer and decided that I was going to go to UNSW in Sydney, where I worked in both the school of Medical Sciences and the School of Psychology, working with Margaret Morris and Professor Fred Westbrook. And looking at how, like food addiction and your memories for food, and memories in general were affected by food. And this really got me so interested in how our diet and obesity could potentially be impacting not only our bodies, but our brains and effectively controlling aspects of our behavior. And I was really fortunate while I was at UNSW, to secure Australian Research Council funding in the form of a DEKRA fellowship. And that allowed me to start my own research program, and really start to hone down into some of the ways that our diet can control effectively our behavior to food and just in our environment in general. So I became really interested in how diet can influence memory formation, and also behavioral control. And when I look back at that it was, you know, an amazing time I was living in Australia, and I then went to RMIT University as a lecturer, Assistant Professor equivalent, and continued my research there. And I then kind of went, you know, I've kind of demonstrating it for a bit, I'm gonna go to Canada, and went and worked with Tim Busey and Lisa succeeded in the lab at Western University in London, Ontario. And I was working there, utilizing a lot more sort of cool genetic tools like chemo, genetics, Opto, genetics, and fiber photometry to be able to hone in a bit more on what these diets are actually doing at the neuronal level, beyond just the molecular biology in the behavioral changes, like actually being able to control things, was really interested at the time in how the extracellular matrix was controlled in potentially neuronal communication and a lot of work there on how how diets can then impact just specific sets of souls. And then COVID Hit which was a thing and still ongoing. I secured a position back it in Australia, University of Adelaide, however, my partner was still in Canada and ended up trying to do remotely wasn't ideal, and then decided, no, maybe I should head back and came back to Canada. And I'm now working as director of neuropharmacology, at Simon, who are
psychedelics pharmaceuticals company. And it's been a massive learning curve over the last couple of months, but it's still exciting. I also started my own business called cognition, nutrition. And that's really being able to utilize my understanding of brain and nervous system, and also behavioral control. And combining that with my love and interest in nutrition.
Nick Jikomes 10:46
Interesting, so so your background is really mainly as a basic research scientist, dissecting various aspects of feeding behavior, and how that impacts the brain. And there are a number of things I want to talk about here. But I think one of the things that someone like you will appreciate is how, you know, the brain, and the entire body is really one integrated apparatus that does all sorts of interesting things. But with respect to feeding, you know, I'm wondering if you could walk us through some of the basics of how a normally functioning brain how a brain that's healthy, helps orient an animal in its environment, so it can figure out what to eat and when to eat. So, you know, I know that there's a lot a lot of things that we could discuss there. But if you could give us kind of a neuro and physiology 101 there, what is the brain basically basically doing at a very high level, to get an animal to find food in in appropriate and adaptive fashion?
Amy Reichelt 11:51
Well, what I find really fascinating is that, although, as humans, we think that, you know, we're so much higher order, animals, compared to the rats and mice that I'd be working on in the lab, we effectively have a lot of the same neurotransmitters and the same systems within our brain. And what really it comes down to, when we think about how our little rat in the wild versus US has, you know, potentially the past is our caveman ancestors, we were all, you know, needed food for survival. And, again, this falls back to a lot of thinking about associative learning. So that that's sort of psychology, secondary year course, that everyone found a bit difficult because, you know, we start thinking about things in a bit more of an abstract way. But really, what happens to us in the real world is we find something that we find rewarding. And food for us is definitely a reward, particularly our palatable foods, like cakes, chocolates, they're high energy, and we need these for survival. And our brain is still hardwired, the same survival way. So we have our brains dopaminergic reward signaling system, and this reward system that generates basically a prediction error when we're in, you know, when we find something that's surprising and interesting, be suddenly eating something that's delicious. And finding, you know, one of these little holes in the wall cafes, when you're traveling somewhere, you're like, we suddenly learn a lot about our environment. And we encode all of this information at once. It's like, this is the location to that's requiring our hippocampus to have you learned that location, you know, our reward system is firing. So that's requiring our dopaminergic system, and we have our emotions associated with it, you know, this is really good. So we have our prefrontal cortex that's kicking in behavioral control being like, should I buy another one of these amazing cakes, and where you, this is like, our simple system, but in the same way, we can model this in the laboratory when we have our rat that might be in a T maze, and it learns the direction that it has to go to find food by geometrically including the landmarks around it that directed to go to the right place. And I think about this in the same way that you know, when you're in the supermarket, you learn where the sweets aisle is very quickly and you learn how these certain rewards make you feel good. And nowadays, however, you know, we're in an environment that is completely replete with all of the He's kind of rewarding foods, beverages. And it's really difficult for us to override these innate predispositions to want these certain foods because we know that they make us feel good, then we know that they're rewarding.
Nick Jikomes 15:20
So one of the the terms that you used here was palatability. So basically how good something tastes. And what's really interesting is that in some, many aspects of palatability seem to be hard coded, right? Animals will, many animals will generally find certain things to automatically be very palatable. And it happens to be for most people, most of the time that the most palatable foods are oftentimes what we would consider to be the most unhealthy foods. They're very calorically dense. They're filled with things like sugar, can you connect the dots that are a little bit more for us from an evolutionary perspective? Why is it that foods like that are more or less automatically, so highly palatable to people?
Amy Reichelt 16:09
I mean, these sorts of foods, they trigger not only our dopaminergic reward seeking system, but they also have impacts on our other endogenous neurotransmitter systems like our endocannabinoid system, which again, is involved in palatability of opioid system, which again, is linked to the sort of hedonic aspect of a reward. And these foods because they're high energy are, are important for survival. And our brain being hardwired for survival makes us like these things that help the species continue in the same way that our reward system is triggered by sex and sociability in interacting with other people that we crave these kind of behaviors and this reinforcement through our brains, no neuronal circuits are what is definitely driving this sort of ways of prolonging humanity as a species in the same way that our little rat in, you know, in the wild is, you know, just looking for a mate and looking for a good source of food. And I think that it's, you know, we simplify our behavior. Now, but don't you know, we think that we're in these situations where everything is so much more higher than really, we are sometimes because when it comes down to it, we were still looking for, for rewards. And we know as well that the reward system becomes hijacked by drugs and abuse, this is where, you know, we're really turning up the reward system to 11. And making everything so much. It's really being hijacked by reward. And this is making people crave certain substances, in the same way that you, you learn about foods that are typically they're really highly palatable, foods, fat, sugar. And these foods are the things that we know when we're stressed can make us feel better, because we get that dopamine kick, we also know that when we're stressed, our brain requires more glucose. And we also have to learn that these foods physiologically, are a quick way of getting glucose into our bloodstream and then into our brains. So that's why you know, when we're stressed out, it can make us really crave these kind of high energy high, particularly sugar foods, we want these quick kicks of sweets, and chocolates. And, and our stressful lives can sometimes encourage this. And also we've got these behaviors that kick in. So are, we learn about how things make us feel. But we can also start to when we continue these behaviors, we start to form habits and habits are really unconscious, and it can be eating when you're not hungry. Or you're always having dessert, because you always have dessert, or eating lunch because it's 12 o'clock, even though you've maybe got up late and had breakfast at 1030 or just these kinds of behaviors where you start really overriding your own physiology. And I was talking to a client the other day and I was like, it's so like almost uncomfortable for us to feel hungry nowadays and be able to really feel that you know, That sense of really you starving, hungry and just want to eat. Because, you know, we're in this environment where we habitually graze upon things working from home, it's the worst, I think I just hang out in front of the fridge for at least, like 15 minutes a day just sort of staring into what I know, I've bought and put in there already, it's not going to manifest me some food magically.
But, you know, these just sort of routines that we get into. And also, my research has really suggested that our diet do reflect these key areas of the brain are involved in cognition, such as our prefrontal cortex, and our hippocampus, as well as potentially also Ross brain areas that are involved in emotional learning, such as the amygdala. And this has been sort of a big line of work between both my lab when it was based in Australia, but also other labs in, in Canada in the US, that are really interested in looking at how diet can like fundamentally change the functioning of these brain regions that are so important for us in behavioral control and learning.
Nick Jikomes 21:18
One of the one of the things that I think is interesting to get into here is, on the one hand, it makes, you know, makes perfect intuitive sense that, you know, as animals that have evolved in the real world, our brains are naturally tuned into, you know, you using general purpose learning and reward mechanisms to figure out how to navigate the environment, among other things to find food, and survive. So, it's not going to be a surprise to anyone that will, of course, we our brains learn to correlate and associate the taste of something with what it looks like, or where it's located, or what we had to do to get it. And we sort of figure out all of those things. But, you know, based on what you were saying, and based on, you know, the kind of story, we always you're told if we're just going to use sort of the cartoon, evolutionary psych explanation for, for why we have many metabolic problems today, it's that, you know, our brains evolved in a state where abundance was the exception rather than the rule. So you know, it wasn't, it wasn't every day that you know, a caveman was going to find some highly, highly calorically dense, sweet foods, the way that we can go get them whenever we want in the supermarket today. And so today, in a state of constant over abundance, there sort of there are not a lot of good stopping mechanisms to prevent us from just over grazing and over indulging. And that brings us to the flip side of this equation, which is, you know, the brain is capable of learning and making associations with respect to food and other things. But you started to basically say that what we eat, and the patterns with which we eat, can also literally affect circuits in the brain. And so I'm wondering if you could start to talk about that side of the equation. If we think about modern diets today that are highly calorically dense, and high in sugar and other things. And I guess I'll let you define what the modern Western unhealthy diet really is. How to how does the ingestion of that kind of diet actually then start to go into the brain and literally affect circuits there?
Amy Reichelt 23:27
Yeah. So sort of to define our modern day diet, a lot of research tends to call it the Western diet. We think about it, it's, it's full of ultra processed foods, you know, our convenience foods. It's high in saturated fats, and it's high in refined sugars, such as sucrose, but then also more, sort of nefariously are, you know, even Faker sugars, like high fructose corn syrup, these kind of hyper sweet foods. And these foods, you know, we know are completely ubiquitous within our own environment, they're so easy to obtain. And they're not only having effects on our bodies when we over consume. So for instance, over Christmas, we we all tend to over indulge a little bit too much. And potentially, you know, northern hemisphere where the weather is, you know, tends to be bad, we're not getting outside, we're not you know, doing much. So, we tend to overindulge across a certain period of time. And by in January 1, we'll start to look at ourselves and my like, feel kind of gross, my brain isn't really ready to go back to work. I haven't been to the gym for ages, feeling very sort of sluggish and potentially, you know, it's the sort of periods of time where we do over indulge and do over consume these foods. Even in spite of typically having generally quite healthy diet for us that we start to notice that these foods might be starting to affect our mood, and how that clear reminders. So what I think is really interesting is that in sort of 2013 2015, between 2013 2015 more resources, Alaba UNSW conducted some experiments that were giving rats access to our own version of high fat, high sugar diets on western boots, which were literally Western foods. So we used to go to the supermarket and buy these rats like pies and cakes, and cookies, and big white Sprague Dawley rats, would you know, it these foods, and they would gain weight. But what was actually found is that, within just a period of four to five days, these animals start showing deficits in hippocampal dependent learning tasks, particularly our spatial learning tasks, or spatial recognition, which is really dependent upon the hippocampus. And this was before the onset of any kind of major weight gain in these animals. And it was really fascinating because it started to strike me that, you know, there's something going on in the brain, that's even faster than just our originally original concept, which was you gain weight, you're getting adipose tissue, adipose tissues, leads to the release of cytokines into the bloodstream, that's then going through into, potentially through the blood brain barrier into the brain. And then that can start to cause changes. But there's very rapid effects of these diets, there's potentially before even the onset of adipose tissue gain. And
Nick Jikomes 27:18
so just make sure I'm following you're basically you're saying you would have rats on some normal rat diet, and in a moment, we'll talk about what that was, you literally start giving them food, human food from the grocery store. And when you say high fat, high sugar, this means in particular, high saturated fat. And high sugar just means sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, like all the stuff that you find in humans, supermarket food, they love to eat that stuff. And they will choose to eat it just like we do. And they will gain weight, just like we do and become heavier. But what you're saying is when you give them tests to measure their like spatial abilities and other cognitive abilities, they actually start to perform worse on those tests within just a few days, which is well before they actually get heavier.
Amy Reichelt 28:03
Yeah. Yeah, so it's kind of mind blowing when we think about how our diets can so quickly affect our brain function. And also, this kind of hit home to me when it came to that sort of thoughts about, you know, how sometimes you might just have a really big weekend, and you might eat quite healthily in the week, but then potentially, there's this stuff going on, you know, the weekend. And then, you know, three or four days of eating unhealthily maybe having this ongoing effect. So, looking at that these diets obviously have very striking effects on cognitive abilities when it comes to spatial memory. And so that's very sensitive to the hippocampal function. And I became really interested as well in how are you are high sugar aspects of the diet because rather than just looking at something as being a high fat and high sugar diet together, but you're teasing apart that, potentially there is an impact of of sugar. And we were giving rats access to 10% sucrose solution, which is the same as about a can of soda in terms of the percentage. And we were binging the rats as well on the sucrose rather than just giving them Bhupen access to it. So what was really interesting in these studies was that the rats were, they would titrate their calories almost so they would restrict down their child consumption. So this would be a sort of normal rat lab child WeetBix kind of boring pellets for them. So they would come down eating that, in lieu of, you know, then filling up their calories with the sugar solution when it was allowed in to put into their cage for just two hours a day, see these rats, they were just like, run over there. They were water the rest of the time, but they were just like, yeah, sugar time. And I was really interested with these animals weren't any different in terms of bodyweight, they just had access to sugar solution for two hours a day. And when we conducted some different sorts of behavioral tests on them, so we did the spatial navigation tests, and they showed deficits there. In one of the papers, we used, a test of patent separation, which really reliance upon neurogenesis within the brain. So these animals were on for 28 days and these diets and then we were using a more complicated spatial test with them, where we could control the locations of the objects within an environment. So we could either make the objects far apart, so they were more distinct, or we could bring them closer together to make them less distinct, and so put more strain on the hippocampus. And what we found in this case was that our rats that binged on sugar each day, showed impairments when we made the task difficult. So made the separation much smaller. So when they came to, then, finally, which was the the novel located object, they weren't as good. But in basically the exact same setting, when we made the objects further apart, so putting less strain on the hippocampus, they could perform the task. So what made me think is that, you know, we have people who are consuming these diets, which may be, you know, very high sugar. And the effect of the diet isn't as blunt as you know, just walking around being completely lost in the world. But there are very serious effects that may particularly then be linked to a reduction in neurogenesis in the brain, we look to proliferation markers. And we also look to doublecortin, for our newer new differentiating neurons, newer neurons. And what we found is that, only when we start to really tax the hippocampus, do we see these these differences? And I think this is really important, because when we think about how we might function fine on a day to day basis, we have normal routines, it's kind of do our own thing. But in when we start to really push our cognitive abilities, are they potentially being detrimentally impacted by these diets?
Nick Jikomes 32:58
Yeah, well, what this immediately makes me think about is, well, there's there's a number of things to connect here. But, you know, the, concurrently with having this over abundance of high, highly dense, highly palatable food available at all times to ourselves, the progress that comes with civilization that comes from technology and stuff, allows us to not push our cog cognition to those upper limits. And so more and more with time, even within my own lifespan, right, there's, there's just less and less pressure, there's less and less need to sort of force yourself to use your brain to its full capacity, so to speak. And based on what you're saying, the deficits that you're talking about are almost masked by that fact. So let's, let's back up a second. And I want to make sure I'm following what you're talking about before. So with the rats, what you were saying was, you give some rats access to sucrose for just a couple hours a day or something like that. And what they would do is they would just start choosing to eat less of their normal food. And so they were basically that they're consuming the same calories per day as rats that did not have access to sugar, but now a higher percentage of the calories that they're getting are coming from sugar. And then you're doing these other tests of some kind. And they're performing worse, but not if the tests are relatively easy. They're only performing worse, if they get relatively difficult. That's that's the basic result.
Amy Reichelt 34:32
Yeah. Yeah. And what's really fascinating is that there's so many neuropsychiatric and neurocognitive assays that we have as people and that we can do as well, but we can back translate them for use with the rats as well. So another major study that I conducted was we used a version of the rat stroop task, so or the human stroop task where you've got both so In general, the stroop task you have your stimulus, which has, you know, typically, a word B red, and red is written either in the color red, which is your congruent stimulus, or you have an incongruent stimulus, which would be red written in blue. And when it comes to your stroop task, you need your prefrontal cortex to be able to override your predisposition to just automatically read the word, but also follow your demand that is given to you. So it could be named the color of the ink, you have to say the color of what the word is written in. So when you have your incongruent stimulus, you get this conflict in your brain where it's going really want to say red. And you have to override that and say, blue. So we have this task with rats that, again, reflects this kind of discrimination behavior. And again, we found that the rats that were binging on sugar performed worse in the task, but only when it came to the incongruent stimuli. And, again, that's suggesting that these diets are having not only effects on the hippocampus, but the prefrontal cortex, which is so important for us to be making decisions. And then I went in and look to the brains post mortem of these rats and did some various immunohistochemistry stains. And one of the key stains that I wanted to look at was parvalbumin interneurons. So these are our gallery logic into neurons that are really integral components of brain systems for like higher order cognition that balancing the inhibition and excitation in the brain. I think of them as being you know, those mediators that you need to control your behavior and overrides and responses to your neurons, the firing. And also changes to these neurons, in terms of their function, or their populations are seen quite commonly in neuro logical conditions such as autism spectrum disorder, or schizophrenia, but in a pathological way. But what we also found was that there were reductions of these neurons in the prefrontal cortex, but also the hippocampus. And this really fascinated me, because this is showing that there's these diets are starting to have an impact on you know, different neurons, you t neuronal subtypes, and beyond just sort of neuroplasticity, and potentially, your Genesis that's happening in the brain, that they could be having key changes to the brain, and how its functioning on you know, on mass. And I've been trying to figure out what's really going on, and I think inhibitory signaling is, is potentially one of the key ways that the brain is starting to become disrupted. And these diets as well don't just affect neurons, they affect the glial cells that are in the brain as well. So one of the other observations with exposure to high fat high sugar diets, high fat diets, high sugar diets is that you see an increase in micro gliosis. So the microglia cells become activated as well. And that's suggesting that, you know, there's inflammation in the brain. And some great work by Scott kanaskie also showed that exposure to high fat and high sugar diets changes the permeability of the blood brain barrier. So our blood brain barrier is so important to preventing pathogens entering into our brain and starting to disrupt neuronal function. But if that becomes leaky, or compromised, then all kinds of cytokines and humankind's and molecules can get into the brain and start wreaking havoc. And it appears that the hippocampus is quite closely related to the blood brain barrier. So that's potentially why we see changes to the hippocampus so quickly, but also areas like the hypothalamus, we see
changes in inflammation. And this has also been seen in pathology from humans, which I think is really exciting, particularly in the hypothalamus. And so this neuroinflammation is setting up and then we've also got changes going on to neurogenesis and neuroplasticity, and markers of neuroplasticity. Changing are the inter neurons, which I'm particularly interested in because our parvalbumin interneurons, high energy that fast spiking, they require a very sort of controlled environment. And what I was really interested in is potentially as well, this interaction between your how microglia, when they become activated could be detrimental and damaging pathologically specific neurons. And one of the other key areas I was looking at is that the parvalbumin neurons are surrounded by a specialized form often of extracellular matrix called perineuronal nets. And if you just want to Google what appears on your own, it looks like they're stunning. If you look at them under the microscope, they're these beautiful little web mesh like structures that surround neurons. And they perform multiple roles involved in plasticity, but also in protection of our neurons. So they form this micro environment around particularly fast spiking into neurons, like our Powervault means, because these are very sensitive cells. And they not only stabilize connections through some other synapses, but it also can prevent oxidative stress damage from settling into these neurons. So I became really interested in whether or not these diets were also potentially being impacted by offering your own or net.
Nick Jikomes 41:40
Yeah, so I think one of the themes that I'm hearing here are. So these period neuronal nets that you're describing are effectively these little, mini Protective Shells that live around certain neurons and certain neural connections, and they sort of protect them from damage. They're very common around very metabolically active neurons, like the inter neurons that you're describing neurons that need a lot of energy, which probably comes to them in the form of sugar. And you also mentioned the blood brain barrier, the blood brain barrier is also sort of similar to apparent neuronal net in the sense that it's right. It's some sort of physical barrier whose tightness and porousness needs to be regulated, because the brain cares very much about what's coming in and out of the brain into the brain from the bloodstream. So if I had to like very coarsely summarize what I'm hearing here, it's, you know, the blood brain barrier has a certain level of integrity that needs to be maintained to it, this high fat high sugar diet can start to compromise that integrity. Within the brain itself. There's also these tiny little things called perineuronal nets, which sort of protect almost like shells, I guess, like I said, some synapses, those can start to break down, and that breakdown is somehow due to inflammation in the brain that is caused by this diet.
Amy Reichelt 43:01
Yeah, so we set up all these vicious cycles, and it does become very sort of reciprocal in a way. And this doesn't just apply to you how neuropathology is setting up. I was previously doing some work with Dr. Cassandra Lowe, Western University. And we were really thinking about how when these diets start to change on sort of more of a macro scale, the function of the prefrontal cortex, that our diets change our behavior, and that then we set up these vicious cycles of they make our they can compromise the functionality and integrity of our prefrontal cortex, or prefrontal cortex is vital for overriding specific behaviors that potentially we would naturally go towards you having this sort of resistance, of temptation of you buying that cake when you get your coffee in the morning. And that, it could be that by reducing the functionality of the prefrontal cortex, that, you know, there's both the balance of the behavioral control becomes compromised, but then conducting more behaviors that further compromise behavioral control. And this then sets up these these behavioral cycles that are very difficult to break. And also some work by Laura Qubic was looking at how high fat and high sugar diet or high fat diet he was giving rats like condensed milk, sort of, you know, like sweet milkshakes, and she found as well that straight or, and frontals circuits, but We're involved in habit acquisition, these start to form habits faster, then their companions that are fed a healthy diet. So it's all this learning and how we behavioral control, and these sort of vicious cycles of potentially, why not only we reinforce these behaviors, they become very hard to break. And also for people who have got caught in these cycles, suddenly, large shifts in diet can be so difficult for them and, and stressful. And we know as well, that stress makes us crave these foods as well. So there's there's so many different things at play beyond, you know, just the simple, you know, microscopic view of potentially ar, ar, Perry, probably neurons that are starting to, you know, fire or break down, and neural circuits in this spans all the way through to, to behavior.
Nick Jikomes 46:11
Yeah, so, so these vicious cycles that you're talking about. So literally, the very circuits within the prefrontal cortex and elsewhere, that gives you the power to resist things and to inhibit certain actions are some of the circuits that are specifically vulnerable to atrophy, literal atrophy, if you shift your diet to like this high fat, high sugar diet, so So the same, the same circuits, in other words that allow you to resist the diet, themselves break down, if you start to engage with that diet on a regular basis. And then, of course, you know, you're trapped, and you probably feel like you're at the mercy of the food, or that you're possessed in some sense that literally corresponds to parts of your brain that have physically changed. One of the things I want to ask you about to connect some dots here, we're talking about, I mean, it's obvious that we're talking about food, and we're talking about diet. But you've already said some interesting things that remind me of something else that might not meet that people might not immediately connect to this, but I'm wondering if there is a connection. So we've been talking about the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex, we've been talking about diet induced changes, in this case that allow that allow certain parts of those circuits in the prefrontal cortex to atrophy, let's say. So connections are being lost. Not getting lost in the details, we know that that outcome, the atrophy of certain connections in the prefrontal cortex is also very closely associated with other neuropsychiatric states. So one example is depression. Another example is addiction. Depression, one of the hallmarks of depression is a loss of connections, atrophy of certain connections within the prefrontal cortex. And one of the exciting things about some of the research that you're probably also familiar with based on your background, is that many of the psychedelics and other so called psycho plastic surgeons actually do two things that seems one, they stimulate very rapidly, the growth of new connections, and we know that they do that in places like prefrontal cortex. And we also know that many of them are very potent anti inflammatory agents. So is it a stretch to wonder if these molecules might have some role to play in the world of diet?
Amy Reichelt 48:42
Yeah, it's something I think about on the regular. I mean, I'm obviously really excited by psychedelic revolution and being sort of able to be at the forefront at at Seibon. You're looking at novel molecules that have been developed, but also thinking more widely about the utility of psychedelics and their huge potency in terms of their ability to effectively rewire the brain and boost these neural circuits and connections that maybe have become very much hardwired that underpin these kinds of maladaptive behaviors. If there's the studies looking at smoking cessation, nicotine is hugely addictive, and has such an impact negatively on people's health and well being that people are so addicted to smoking, that these kinds of behavioral responses, incredibly difficult to override, but when you look at the studies that are coming out, that are showing, you know, 60% people after you one session with psilocybin are able to, you know, quit smoking effectively for, I think six months, when they did the follow ups, the these drugs are genuinely causing huge changes in the brain. And it's definitely not difficult to extrapolate from substance use nicotine addiction, alcohol use disorder, these kind of maladaptive behaviors that our, again, hardwired in terms of associations, associative learning, they're backed up by these very strong associations difficult to break that, then how are these diet? How are these drugs potentially able to change, other sorts of behaviors being binge eating, or people being on the other side of the coin people with anorexia, I saw that there were some basis to trials or phase one trials or, you know, looking at how psychedelics could potentially start to, you know, treat these sort of maladaptive eating behaviors. And, again, when you said about the neuro inflammation, the serotonin agonists are incredibly potent, and even potentially, at sub psychedelic doses, have prolonged effects that are anti inflammatory. So thinking about how you know, we have a population that's aging, and dementia, and Alzheimer's disease, is increasing with longevity, and can replace incredible burdens on society, that you're having these kinds of therapies and medicines available that can not only, you know, boost plasticity, but also reduce neuro inflammatory responses that are potentially under lying. Outsiders, there's these big links between diet and outsiders, I think sometimes people say Alzheimer's is type three diabetes. That you, again, we're seeing him change to the hippocampus by these diets. But it's again, not more like, on the thought of that these states have low level neuro inflammation set up by poor diet could be precipitating or exacerbating the sorts of neuro pathologies that are associated with dementia. And, you know, I think it's such an exciting field, and I love the term and psycho plasminogen. David, also, I think that it's already, you know, these drugs are, are potent, these chemicals can cause long lasting changes to how our brain is wired. And there is obviously a lot of utility in so many neurodegenerative disorders, but also for for anything that's underlying, you know, underpinned by a maladaptive behavior.
Nick Jikomes 53:35
Yeah, I think some of this stuff is really important to emphasize for people, because it's really easy to get caught up in some of the specific studies and some of the specific headlines about psilocybin for depression, or this drug for addiction or that drug for this. But, you know, I think the important point here for me is actually that many of these neuro psychiatric problems, even though they they manifest in different ways, many of them at least have a component that's shared and common across them. So you know, the same kind of atrophy and the same kind of circuit in the prefrontal cortex can subserve or contribute at least partially to one person's depression and another person's addiction, and that may that atrophy may have been initiated, but the same kind of just general brain inflammation that many, many, many, many people are experiencing right at this very moment. So it's, you know, it's not like these drugs know, like, what your psychiatric condition is, is that there could be these common brain general mechanisms that they speak to that have to do with these inhibitory and other circuits that you're talking about in the prefrontal cortex. The other thing I want to ask you about here is, you know, you've mentioned that some of these circuits can be vulnerable because they're close to places like the blood brain barrier. You've mentioned that some of these neurons that are relevant here that have an important role to play in inventory control, generally speaking, they're very metabolically active. And another way of saying that is you gotta you got to invest a lot, a lot of juice into these neurons to keep them working properly. And generally, that means they're also more vulnerable, right? They're, if they're sort of high octane neurons that require a lot of energy, it's going to be relatively easy to break those, if they're deprived with the kind of energy they need. The thing, another thing that connects those, those things that I want to want to ask you about is, you know, we've implicitly been talking about all these things in the adult brain. But some of these circuits are some of the last circuits to mature in the developing brain. And I'm wondering what you can tell us about the role that this diet plays in, say, the adolescent brain or the developing brain? Because I'm, I'm guessing you can tell us something, and I'm guessing it's not going to be a good thing.
Amy Reichelt 55:52
Yeah, I'm going. Yeah, we know from neuro imaging studies, initially, that the brain, the prefrontal cortex, is the last part of the brain to fully mature. And we also know this from just general behavior of teenagers, that as your you embark upon puberty, and then you know, going through your teenage years that you do tend to show behavior, behavioral traits that tend to be sort of impulsive, you're not the best best at making decisions. And this could manifest not only as you know, the reckless behavior, but also making risky choices. But also having quite a high threshold when it comes to reward and reward seeking behaviors. In our modern day, environment, replete with lots and lots of high fat and high sugar rewarding foods. It never surprises me, when you walk past a fast food restaurant, you've got teenagers sat outside or inside and groups, you're hanging out at the mall, eating burgers, and milkshakes and all that kind of food in big gangs and like agar. They're not drinking. But I think that we know that the prefrontal cortex is a late area of the brain to fully inform. And we also know that are parvalbumin neurons, which are surrounded by perineuronal nets, the last area of the brain for our perineuronal nets to surround these parvalbumin neurons is the prefrontal cortex as well. And from my work, looking at both adult and adolescent mice, that we exposed to these high fat high sugar diets, we did see changes in terms of the distribution of the apparent neuronal nets and, and other people have as well. So basically, you're really showing that these these blacks are late forming, and potentially that high fat and high sugar diets may, if they're consumed during our adult, adolescent years, prior your childhood, that they may start to really derail how our, our prefrontal cortex becomes hardwired, because through neuro development, that it could basically recalibrate the brain a bit, so that maybe you you start to set into certain turn these maladaptive behaviors where you may have these habits. And then because you have these habits to do with how you eat at a younger age, that they become much stronger, hardwired into, into one neural circuitry. And that may make them these behaviors harder to break. What also I think is really interesting is for us, we, we noticed as adults if we eat badly, or we start really over consuming a lot of calories that it shows physically, honestly, nowadays, and I mean, I think I could just like sniff some crisps, and you know, suddenly, my, my jeans don't fit as well.
But for young people, often going through these growth spurts through adolescence, and this requires a lot of energy. And in the same way we saw with mice and rats, when we put them on these diets, and we're weighing them from when they're juvenile through adolescence through to adulthood. When they're on these high fat, high sugar diets, it almost masks the, the the actual weight gain in these animals. So because they're multiple Olek rates are so high that you don't see it in the same way. And I thought this was really fascinating because you know, this sort of feedback, typically, people are getting, and it could be that, you know, you're not getting this feedback in conceptually or you know, even in terms of body images, as, as an adolescent human, you can also be, you know, kind of negligent of your diet and just think, Oh, it's okay, this manner, like, I can eat whatever I want, and it's fine. But it, your brain is vulnerable at this time, not only is it still maturing, particularly in the prefrontal cortex. But in terms of your calibration of your reward systems, has the potential that your brain expects higher thresholds of rewards, you're always going to over consume. There's this idea of this. hedonic, and that, potentially, you see changes in the brain, particularly around dopamine, that when you over consume these high fat, high sugar diets, and your neurons start to increase the numbers of dopamine receptors on the neurons, which makes us consume more food to get the same reward out of these foods. And that that could be you know, one of the things that's driving obesity, and when we think about adolescents and teenagers that are consuming these diets, potentially that that is, again, you potentially changing the balance of the brain. And there's other researchers that have looked much more deeply into how the dopaminergic system is changed by the consumption of these diets. But, you know, Paul canning has, you know, he fed rats cheesecake. And they, they showed behavioral and change changes to the dopamine system. But I think that, you know, it's important in terms of education for young people to understand that what they're doing in you know, their younger years may have effects down the line. And I think that, you know, health promotion is really important for young people as well, they're very receptive to, you know, their environment. And they're also in a situation where the learning pressures are high. So, if young people have, again, when we were talking about the hippocampus being compromised, but only under these situations of increased demands, that you what could be more demanding than you know, when you're, you're young, and you're like trying to learn everything, at high school, or you're trying to learn a new language, you're trying to learn all of your history.
Nick Jikomes 1:03:12
I mean, it's, I have so many questions that cascade from this. And it's hard not to start to think in a quite a dystopian manner, about some of these things. But what I was starting to think about, as you were speaking, just now was, you know, so on the one hand, you know, we've talked about all of these diet induced changes in the brain that can literally degrade circuits in the prefrontal cortex, or in the case of the developing brain, prevent them from being, you know, built up and worked out and strengthened, so to speak, in the way that they would otherwise, then these circuits are very important for what we'll just call higher order, cognitive control, sort of the fanciest, most sophisticated stuff that that we associate with the human brain. And so if those diet mediated deficits are happening, and then on top of that, you know, you've got just, just the other trappings of modernity that aren't, certainly aren't helping our attention spans, I think it's pretty self evident to most people that, you know, having the social media apparatus that we have on our phone and having a million choices on Netflix, you know, our attention spans are literally degrading. So we've got this sort of surplus of options that, that are giving us an external decision making apparatus, right that the algorithm can decide for you, you don't have to decide, you're talking about these diet induced changes in the brain that prevent some of those circuits that would do that kind of thing from developing or from being maintained. I wonder if some at least partially some of the diet induced changes to the prefrontal cortex and elsewhere that you've been talking about, is it conceivable that they're contributing to things that we might not otherwise think they contribute to so what about something like ADHD and attention deficit disorder? Is it public possible that diet induced, you know, inflammation might be contributing to that is there any interesting correlations or relationships between, say obesity rates and children ADHD and things in that realm?
Amy Reichelt 1:05:13
It really area to look at. But knowing that ADHD attention is so reliant upon dopaminergic signaling in the brain, and that with with ADHD that the typical Ritalin, the methylphenidate, that is important for normalizing the dopaminergic system as a treatment for it could be one of one of the things that is potentially changed by the environment, I'm not going to say diet by itself. But it is it is incredibly interesting that our attention system is so controlled by dopamine as well. And that we now do tend to have a much shorter attention span, just because we have so much information incoming at all times. I don't think it's necessarily our fault, even our brain, it's just, you know, paying attention to so many things, those low levels of information coming at us from all angles, and I try and think, you know, when when you have those periods where you're like, just have to do some, like deep work and you know, concentrate on something, that you do still have all these distractions, like your phone will start ringing, and then your internet comes up with like, an email, and, you know, there's all these temptations as well to, to behave in a certain way. And that also gets me thinking, like, I'm just on a bit of a roll now that, you know, if, you know, we have so many temptations for you, other things that are, you know, these almost like micro rewards like looking at Twitter, or go scrolling through Instagram, or you know, looking at Tik Tok, or, or whatever, that, you know, these, again, are tiny rewards, that, again, we can find difficult to stop ourselves from engaging in because we do find them rewarding, but potentially because, you know, our, our environment is so awash with rewards that everything is a bit almost blunted, because everything's rewarding, and how our brain is potentially just not getting the same kick out of things. And that's why why we are scattered sometimes. And we do find it difficult to concentrate, I find, if I want to listen to a podcast, I take the dog for a walk. And you know, I'm just kind of enjoying listening and walking with a dog. But, you know, at the same time, like, why am I not paying attention to just what's outside, but if I'm home, there's too many distractions, you know, I could be looking on Instagram, or I could be checking my email or feeling guilty for all the emails that I haven't responded to or thinking about something else. And, you know, it's that sort of divergence of information. And our brains, I think, you know, potentially can't, can't cope with with the incoming information that that we're required to attend to. It's doing its best, but potentially, it is overwhelmed.
Nick Jikomes 1:08:55
So we've discussed how, you know, a certain change in diet, which is eating a diet that's higher in saturated fats and sugars, whether it's in humans, or whether it's in laboratory rodents, basically has a negative effect that has a pro inflammatory effect in the brain. And that has other consequences, which we discussed. The flip side of that is to simply ask if there's diets that can have the opposite effect. Are there any and there's lots of stuff out there on the internet about, you know, brain foods and the foods you should be eating? I want to ask you, you know, how much legitimacy there is to some of those claims. But, in general, if there's foods that can promote inflammation in the brain, it it's perfectly reasonable to suppose that there's foods that at least don't promote inflammation, potentially even foods that have the opposite effect. So what can you tell us about that?
Amy Reichelt 1:09:49
Yeah, so I mean, nutritional science is vast. And I also want to sort of preface this with What a rodent eats, isn't, you know, going to have the same sort of effect necessarily, as it would on in a human setting. Because if you giving an animal very controlling diet, which could be supplemented with something, it might be at a much higher concentration than a human could necessarily eat if it's in these kinds of supplements. But I think that there's good evidence that a number of compounds, which have been around for a very long time, are potentially beneficial to the brain, and omega threes, which are a building blocks of our neuronal membranes, and they maintain neuronal fluidity, which can become compromised when plus city has decreased. There's good evidence that a diet that has these omega threes that could be obtained from oily fish are beneficial for the brain. And studies using diets such as the mind diet, which is based around the Mediterranean diets. Good population studies, as well have shown that these diets do improve both mood and cognition particularly in older adults. And there's there's a lot of work going on out at Deakin University, the food mood center that led by police jacker that they call it in coined nutritional psychiatry. And that really using these diets as as an intervention protect, potentially you dementia, cognitive decline and depression. So I think there's there's that we also know that there's a number of compounds that occur in nature that are anti inflammatory. And whether these compounds are being tested, particularly for our cognition and brain health is almost like supplemental to the fact that these diets and certain supplements can be good for say, systemic inflammation, such as in arthritis, when in joints becoming inflamed. So there's also antioxidants and think about blueberries superfoods, but they are rich in anthocyanins. And these compounds are shown to be anti inflammatory, at least in certain laboratory conditions. And you know, there's there's other supplements around curcumin, which is found in turmeric is also known to be a potent anti inflammatory. We've got we all know that a counter stimulant that you know, a lot of us rely on on the daily caffeine, that, that can you potentially create your plasticity in the brain stimulant, making us work better. And also, I think that we neglect physical activity and aerobic exercise is so effective for for boosting plasticity. And this works numerous mechanisms in the brain, but particularly improving BDNF, which brain derived neurotrophic factor that in the hippocampus, helps you form memories, but aerobic exercise, although you can't necessarily say okay, I'm going to, you know, run on the treadmill and you know, burn off 400 calories. You know, this is very, you know, a minor amount in terms of your energy expenditure. It's the saying you can't outrun your fork. Because I mean, you could go have two beers and a glass of wine and that's quite easily nearly like 500 calories of empty energy that you're putting into your body. You have a chocolate bar, and that's 200 calories be like, ran on this treadmill. But what is important with the utilization of that exercise is that if you are looking at those lifestyle changes, and you're embarking on
making new habits that are healthy and trying to override some of those proponent responses when it comes to eating cake or always having dessert or your general diet that is full of these rewarding high fat high sugar unhealthy hyper processed Ultra processed foods, that by boosting plasticity in the brain through aerobic exercise, potentially, you are then going to be able to start to more effectively override these habits. And I think that that's, you know, an important component for people who are embarking upon lifestyle changes is that integrating exercise, it does make you you at least feel kind of accomplished after going and working out, you get that sort of feedback of, you know, when you do start improving that, like, Well, I started off doing this weight and that feels light now, and it's not because this, you know, 20 pound weight got any lighter, it's just because I got stronger. And, you know, starting to, through exercise and diet, reduce adipose tissue, so then you're putting less strain in terms of neuro inflammation on your brain that's been generated systemically from adipose tissue. And exercise is also increasing blood flow, and helping in in that respect, and getting these nutrients to your neurons. And you know, that there are these these taking, again, into the terms, your neuroplasticity, being so important for being able to effectively adapt to a new environment. And I think about, again, when we were talking about psychedelics earlier, people who have depression, or addiction disorders, though, quite often trapped in these maladaptive behavioral circles, rarely that they find it difficult to break. For instance, people with depression, hear that this sort of rumination of thoughts over and over the can make these feelings and behaviors hardwired. And we also know that that depression is associated with cadonia and decreased plasticity. We start integrating in plasticity augmenting exercise. But that then can start to help reverse these, though, your stagnation or most where we really stuck in certain ways and start to adapt these new behaviors.
Nick Jikomes 1:17:47
One of the things I do want to ask you about because you mentioned at the beginning, that you had previously studied the endocannabinoid system is cannabinoids. And they're interesting in the context of what we've been discussing for two reasons. One, we know the endocannabinoid system is a very important component of hunger regulation. Generally speaking, many listeners will know first or second hand that you know THC is famous for its ability to actually has a remarkable ability to modulate the palatability of food, I'm always impressed by its ability to do that. So it can make things taste better. It often causes people acutely, although not chronically to increase the intake of certain types of foods. But also many of the cannabinoid molecules, pretty much all of them tend to have some kind of anti inflammatory mechanism that they engage in the body. And so I'm curious what you can tell us about the endocannabinoid system with respect to modulating things like palatability and food intake, and whether there's some connection there with the inflammation side of things.
Amy Reichelt 1:18:57
Oh, it's been a while since I've thought about these kinds of things. We definitely saw no, when when I was. So I was I was studying. See one receptors and using antagonists, so the antagonists were. The idea was that they made food less palatable to people so so rimonabant, its main idea was that it's going to block CB one receptors in the brain, preventing the Endocannabinoid tone. And then this would make palatable foods less palatable to people. As a as a diet type tool, and the pharmaceutical industry has really, you know, struggled with the development of successful anti obesity drugs because they either have their We pronounce side effects, but the newer GLP one type system drugs, they are showing a lot more more utility. But around the time that I was I was looking at the clock the palatability of the sucrose solution and understanding that THC. It tends to make people want to consume, particularly high energy, starchy foods or sweet foods. So these are foods that we already know are quite rewarding like bread, marshmallows or candy, that kind of food. But obviously, this is this is an important endogenous system in the control of consumption. And also Yeah, thinking about how in the Endocannabinoid antagonists, they, the major drawback of them wasn't that they reduced the palatability of food it was that they they kind of induced the reduction of palatability of everything, it wasn't specific to food and possible foods. And I think that the the problems that were reported was depression in people and that in potentially suicidality, because people were like, oh my god, like not only does everything taste of cardboard, but you know, the world has become gray as well. So you start messing with the system. Blocking your endocannabinoids isn't, isn't good.
Nick Jikomes 1:21:47
Make sense? It's not like CB one receptors are only found in the tongue. So if they're everywhere, you kind of have this this very general effect. And correct me if I'm wrong, that drug. So if I remember correctly, when I first learned about Romana bond, it's a CB one receptor antagonist, as you mentioned, it does have the intended effect, as you just said, of reducing the palatability of food. But it's its consequences, generally speaking, we're so sort of broad spectrum and unacceptable that I believe it was taken off the market and really not used at all.
Amy Reichelt 1:22:22
Yeah, so it was, we used it before it was removed from the market. But we remember also, another student in in lab at todich, was was having a look at, you know, actually that the negative consequences of Ramadhan, you know, trying to look at whether it started biasing animals towards punishment in really how it's changing affective type behavior. Or even in making choices for rewards in which they start to, you know, rather than an animal that would normally make a lever press, you can do a discrimination, discounting type assay with rats, where you have your two levers, and one has a small reward, and one is associated with a large reward. And you can start to while the rats initially like, well, I'm going to go for the larger reward because this, you know, pressing this one lever once gives me four pallets. And if I press this other lever, once I get one pallet, so I'm going to have a big one, but you can start to put in different modifications to the demands of getting the bigger reward. So it could be that you make it so they have to make more responses. And rats will tend to continue responding on the on the high reward lever until it's not worth them responding on it or in theory, you can start to put in a delay and delay discounting task. And by increasing the delay on the high reward, What's is it optimal in terms of your behavior to keep responding to the one low reward or to wait longer and only press the light washboard? Again, just thinking about that. What's interesting is we tried to do this with rats on high fat, high sugar diets and high sugar diets. And rats just regardless, but we're really good at this task. And they were titrate their responses, you know, so that we didn't see any differences between the diet animals. But delay discounting sort of reward discounting has been shown to differ in people with obesity versus people without obesity. And there's been a range of neuroimaging studies as well which again, links back to the function of the prefrontal cortex and reward system that there could be this profound changes By obesity and diet to the reward system that do make people you know, potentially make poor choices or and overvalue certain rewards or undervalue certain rewards. So again, these these behavioral changes back to canal noids. It didn't work. You know, we do on these scientific adventures sometimes. But yeah, I'm I think that cannabinoid system. I think it's it's incredibly interesting. And the use now of cannabis, instead of, you know, alcohol for you, I think is it showing utility for people who want to relax at the end of the day? Potentially, you know, the CVD, utility of that, for anxiety disorders, I think that it's, it's all really interesting, and also the the anti inflammatory properties of CBD in particular. Not just in topically, but potentially for, for inflammation within the brain. I think that it's all definitely areas that should be pursued and are being pursued. And I'm greatly interested in.
Nick Jikomes 1:26:36
One of the last things I want to ask you about is the potential connection that you started to mention earlier between diet induced inflammation and neurodegenerative disorders, like Alzheimer's disease, and normally, we don't think of these things as being connected. But is there potentially some connection there?
Amy Reichelt 1:26:59
Yes, there's definitely connections between your inflammation and the development of neurodegenerative disorders. I mean, I was thinking about you, particularly, are microglia in the brain. So microglia are support cells, and the basically immune cells in the brain that are out there to, to maintain homeostasis and, and to remove any pathogens that are entering into potentially damage our neurons and functioning these, the brain. And if we're consuming these kind of high fat, high sugar diets, and our microglia, they become primed, even if they don't actually start damaging cells themselves that they can become prime because they've previously been clearing up cytokines and oxidative stress, that's that. It's like they're hyper alert. And then what can happen is, potentially there's some neuro pathology starts to set in, be it some tauopathy, associated with Alzheimers disease or starting buildup of amyloid beta plaques, in the pathological sense, could have a traumatic brain injury or concussion, you might get an infection that starts to also set off changes within the brain. And then the primed microglia, sort of overreact to these kinds of situations. When they're in this prime state, they become hyper reactive. And it's like, they can start to cause basically mayhem within the brain that they, they can actually start stripping off synapses from neurons. In the case of Alzheimers disease and tauopathies, where the neuron starts to die, it's the the microglia are needed to go and clear up that this debris. But again, it's just the sort of the primed and this can exacerbate what the onset of cognitive decline, potentially other sorts of neuro pathologies.
Nick Jikomes 1:29:45
So if your general metabolic condition is such that these microglia are in this primed state they're not they're not necessarily actively doing damage on a moment to moment basis, but you know, when they're called upon they they react with such force that you just get extra collateral damage that happens.
Amy Reichelt 1:30:05
Yeah, and also, there's been some recent studies that have shown that the microglia can start to interact with penurunan acts that are surrounding the perineum, the power of minerals, and then will they start either interacting with the net itself and breaking it down. Or then they might also be sort of clearing up any sort of breakdown of the power neural nets elsewhere, but then they're still reactive. But then, that means that these parvalbumin neurons that were previously surrounded by the perineuronal nets are now unshielded from their micro environment, and these are highly metabolically active, as you said, they like their environment to be nice and controlled, and that they're very susceptible to oxidative stress. So free radicals brosse going around that, then these can start to impact the metabolically active neurons, and cause them to dysfunction, and potentially break down or become come damaged, and the synapses become destabilized. And then you might start to see these changes in cognition and behavioral control, because these circuits are starting to break down, and it's, you know, either due to the pathology from neuro inflammation, and then that has a sort of knock on effect to the neuroplasticity, or vice versa, that potentially, you know, changes to neuroplasticity means that the brain is less able to adapt to a neuro inflammation challenge. And, you know, sort of overcome these these events that are happening. And I think that it's important to think about so many changes that can happen in the brain just as a facet of the environment, and that these can then have, in a way really pronounced effects on brain function, behavior, and people's wellness.
Nick Jikomes 1:32:24
Well, we've definitely covered a lot of ground. And there's a lot, a lot to think about. In many ways, it's almost an inherently negative subject. Are there any final thoughts or words of optimism that you might want to leave people with about the just general topic of the relationship between the diet and what's actually happening in the brain?
Amy Reichelt 1:32:48
I think that, firstly, knowledge is key. And it's really important that we start to educate ourselves more about diet and its effects that aren't just physically on on our on our physique bodies. But you know, how it's affecting our brain. I think that, because of this interest, researchers have started to look more closely at diet interventions via your Mediterranean diets, mind diets, and being able to potentially, when somebody starts to experience cognitive difficulties, or their memory is not as sharp as it used to be, that they can integrate in these kinds of changes to their diet without being reliant upon pharmaceuticals. And I'm also incredibly excited by the premise of psychedelics to be able to boost plasticity and augment neuro inflammation in the brain, and potentially have these profound behavioral changes that are basically what underpins so many maladaptive behaviors that people are struggling with. I think that that's, that's really critical. And unfortunately, I you know, I think that sometimes you feel like it's too little too late in certain situations where you're like, oh, man, I got to, you know, lose weight and go to the gym and whatever. But also, because we know that the brain becomes more plastic, when you're exercising, and starting to integrate in these kind of behavioral changes. It's like the first step is always the hardest step. And when people start to understand that, I think that you can start making much more profound changes to your health and well being and Moving away from the idea that we're going to have this magic pill that's going to fix everything. Change takes work. And scientists are looking at discovering new ways to augment change and new mechanisms to make it make it better, quicker, but it's not going to be a magic pill overnight.
Nick Jikomes 1:35:25
Well, Amy Reichheld thank you for your time and, and I really appreciated some of the knowledge that you shared with us today.
Amy Reichelt 1:35:33
Thank you so much for inviting me to talk to you